Before I detail the story about how awesome of a day Sunday was, let me start at the beginning of this adventure on Thursday night. I arrived home from my long work trip at about 10pm with a simple plan for the next day - drive the PCH Friday and track day on Sunday with whatever happens in between. Friday morning I woke up around 8am, made a quick breakfast, and got to work on prepping and packing the car. This involved a quick maintenance job swapping both my speed sensor and cam position sensor. And finally, after packing the car full of camping supplies and all of my tools, I was on the road around 1130am.
Since I left so late on a Friday, traffic sucked and it was hot almost all of the way to Santa Barbara. Once I started getting up the coast though, traffic cleared out and the temperature cooled off nicely along the water. It was the perfect top down day and made for an excellent drive. It was very clear out as well which is generally rare; no marine layer nor any forest fire smoke at that time.
The drive up the PCH was absolutely breathtaking and exactly as beautiful as I remembered from the last time that I drove up that way. But this was the first time in a convertible and more importantly in my own car. This was probably my number one goal to accomplish after moving across the country, I just had to take my Miata up the PCH to Monterey!
The sun set right as I neared my destination for the night. It was a fitting end to the day, driving off into the sunset in a Miata, traffic finally cleared out, and an open road to enjoy to my hearts content. Most of the day was spent stuck behind slow cars but it was more about the views than the drive anyways. I made it to my campground at about 8pm to set up camp, cook some dinner, and get some much needed rest.
I was up right about sunrise and went for a short hike around the campground in order to take in the views of the area. Where did I camp you might ask? WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca! This was a last minute decision but I’m so glad I did that. I was sad that I wasn’t racing there that day but at least I got to see some race cars flog the track for a bit!
Once the novice group came on the track (the pace was apparent!) I packed up the car and got back on the road around 10am to head back down the PCH again and eventually end up in Buttonwillow to see my second track for the day. And of course get ready for my own track day on Sunday!
After a few hours of driving, I stopped for lunch in Paso Robles and then took off onto CA41 to head East to Buttonwillow. 41 is an amazing twisty Central California road and was a blast in the Miata. I got stuck behind some people at some of the best parts, but not surprising midday on a Saturday. Definitely on the list to come back soon!
Eventually I arrived at Buttonwillow to just watch some cars race around the track, set up camp for the night, go fill up on gas, Cook some dinner, and eventually get to bed nice and early. It was going to be a long day of racing the next day so I got as much rest as possible.
My first session on the track in the morning was pretty slow compared to others. 2:28.5 is faster than my fastest time around the same track in the other direction which was good. But I knew I had more in me. Unfortunately though I managed to pick up a big rusty screw in one of my tires on the last lap!!
My tires were pretty close to done anyways but I wanted to at least make it through the end of this track day before replacing them. With only one session in and plenty of time left to shave off, I felt shorted and that there was no way I was going to let this end my weekend just like this. I plugged the tire at least so that I could make it home for sure. But I was wayyyy sketched out about driving on the track with plug, especially that close to the edge. I called many shops in the area that were open on a Sunday but only one had any tires in my size, and they only had one! It was some crappy 400tw Nexen all season that they wanted $150 plus mounting/balancing/disposal. So that was out! However, I found out that there was a tire shop right at the track. The only unfortunate part was that they only had 40TW Toyo RR. Yes, racing slicks.
Muhaha these are amazing tires! I went out for my second session after lunch and immediately shaved off 1.5 seconds from my fastest time. It was not a whole lot but I could tell that these tires had so much more grip and I was just getting started with testing them out and warming them up. They really felt like I had activated some sort of cheat code and activated magnets or something, permanently attaching me to the pavement.
After two more sessions, I was able to shave off nearly 8 whole seconds from my time!! These were wickedly fast tires and were well worth the purchase. This brought me line with other Miatas that I had talked to so I was very happy with how I was doing. Crazy what a difference tires can make.
Packing up at the end of the day was a bear but now I get to enjoy that transport tires to the track and run slicks life! Unfortunately due to the lack of planning I had to drive home on the slicks. But such is life and I’ve probably taken a track day of life out of them by doing that. I will not be driving the car again though until I get another set of wheels and tires for the street. That is later’s problem though as I have another car to rely upon and I’m getting on a flight right now back to Dallas. Until the next adventure!